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Having thus introduced the “ Annals of Boyle” to the reader, it may be asked, how this particular compilation came to be selected, as that, by which the course of the annexed History was to be guided ? The answer will disclose some of the difficulties that works on Irish History or Antiquities must as yet encounter,—a bounty can alone bring -them into market; no publisher, as the author of these volumes can testify, at least on his humble experience, will, or prudently could, at once indemnify the writer, and present such a work to the public, in a respectable form; there is, consequently, no alternative left for one that would prosecute such an object, but to claim, from those who might favour the introduction of peaceful studies in Ireland, and promote its dispassionate illustration, their aid and co-operation, at least for his mere indemnity. Having felt the necessity of adopting this course in former works for the local illustration of Ireland, the author, although the numerical result in these fell far short of his expectations, determined on seeking a similar guarantee for one of its general history, and so confident was he still in the certainty of a vastly increased list, that he actually contemplated, as he then thought, the original undertaking of editing the Annals of the Four Masters, as decidedly the most full in narrative, and extensive in scope of time ; fortunately, however, it transpired, in an interview with Messrs. Hodges and Smith, that they had theretofore, at their personal responsibility, engaged an editor and translator for this very work, had incurred considerable expense in the necessary preliminaries, and were about to issue circulars (as they have since done), for a subscription list, they, therefore, claimed a right of pre-occupation, and their wish was responded to; the harvest of national literature is too heavy to justify prejudicial conflict, the apprehension ought rather be, that too much valuable produce must perish, from the deficiency of labourers to gather it in, and, in truth, as the price which these respectable publishers, with the most zealous wish for circulation, deemed it necessary to put upon their volumes, was six guineas, a private individual may congratulate himself, as having escaped such serious risk in the cause of patriotism. The “ Annals of Inisfallen" seemed the next best calculated to gratify public attention, and, although the general class of subscribers might be diminished, by the title sounding as local, yet it was thought this disadvantage could be countervailed, but of course with increased labour and research, by associating the Annals with a history of Inisfallen and the lovely lakes of Killarney, or even, on more extended local encouragement, a History of Kerry, and thence obtaining a considerable co-operation from resident proprietors. The individual, in rank and influence projected as most likely to promote this object, appeared to be the Earl of Kenmare, and accordingly, it was proposed, that the History of Kerry, with a supplemental volume or volumes, comprising the Annals of Inisfallen, should be undertaken, if his Lordship would appropriate £200 towards the outlay, not to be paid until the whole work was accomplished; but to that communication no reply has ever since been received. The third, and more successful application, was submitted to Viscount Lorton, in reference to the “Annals of Boyle,” with an accompanying volume on the Statistics and History of the Barony of Boyle, which it was offered to compile, on an appropriation by his lordship of 100 guineas, that sum being, in this case, deemed a sufficient contribution, as the scope of the local matter was only over a barony. Lord Lorton's answer was immediate, not only assenting to promote the publication, but, as some engravings of the scenery of his princely residence would greatly enhance the value of the work, his Lordship was pleased to invest £200 in bank, at the disposal of the author. This noble auspice was followed by an appropriation of £50 by the late Mr. Tenison, in regard to the romantic scenery of Castle Tenison, within the barony of Boyle (of which three engravings were to be and are given by the compiler), an obligation which his brother and heir, Captain Edward King Tenison, has since ratified and discharged. Mr. Mulloy of Oakport also contributed three views, and Mac Dermott Roe one, connected with their respective estates in that barony. Having thus adopted the Annals of Boyle, it was more than appropriate to give the fullest local illustration of the scenes in which they were compiled, and with much of which they were especially conversant; nor can it surely be objected to, that the vignette title of the work exhibits the seat of its noble patron, and that an introductory volume is devoted to the statistics and history of one of the most picturesque baronies in Ireland, and withal, the land where Carolan, the justly celebrated bard, passed his happiest hours, and found his last home.
It was not hastily or unadvisedly, that the work, as its scope had been then contemplated, was undertaken. The original prospectus, largely circulated, proposed only to print a translation of the “ Annals of Boyle,” with notes, historical, topographical, and genealogical, and an introductory history of the town of Boyle and of the interesting localities of its barony, in one volume, embellished with 15 plates ; "price to subscribers one pound, to be paid when the work was announced as ready for delivery on order.” For the work, thus limited, the appropriations above alluded to were, with a subscription list of 300, sufficient indemnity, and on that basis has the author ever signified his readiness to publish any of the extensive collection of manuscripts which he had amassed. When, however, the proposed subject was more intimately examined, the Annals of Boyle, although their meagreness was the best test of their antiquity, were considered too brief to afford that gratification to the general reader, and that impulse to national history, which were the main object of the encouragement conceded; it was, therefore, at once resolved, with great additional labour, to supply the deficiencies of these Annals from other native sources, in fact, to compile a History of Ireland for the period embraced in them, viz., from the earliest time to the year 1245, but retain, as in distinct paragraphs and type, the succession of the “Annals,” so that they could, at a glance, be selected from the additional matter. It was further volunteered to give yet more local and personal interest throughout Ireland, by enlarging and extending the Notices, topographical and genealogical, to every place and family that is mentioned in these Annals, and lastly, to purchase for the engravings a superior finish; yet, while the work was thus embellished and extended into two volumes, the price to subscribers has, of course, remained unaltered. After such disinterested efforts, the compiler was vain enough to think, that the majority of those, whom he selected in the direction of his numerous circulars, nobles and gentry, would, for the cause, not only co-operate, by placing their own names on the subscription list, but become the centres for extended and effective circulation of the prospectus, yet was the original number so little increased, that the edition has been, in prudence, limited to 500 copies. It is, however, proudly relied upon, and gratefully acknowledged, that this list comprises the names of noblemen, prelates, members of Parliament, clergymen, and gentry, of every varied shade of religious and political opinions, and sincerely does the author hope, that they will feel satisfied with the conduct of the work. If,” as he has before expressed himself, “ there be any, who would expect or desire to see in this, or any of his works, a comment that could dissociate the hearts of British subjects, feed a prejudice or flatter a party, it is unequivocally avowed, that, however gratifying or remunerative their patronage might, under other circumstances, be, it cannot be purchased by a surrender of principles which have become unalterable rules of action. The truth of history shall not be compromised; but it is hoped, that a candid retrospect upon the unhappy errors and feuds that have so long divided Ireland, the jealousies that have checked its advance in the march of nations, and the misgovernment that has recoiled with retarding influence on its rulers, may, on the one hand, happily facilitate their correction and abandonment, while, on the other, details of honourable achievement, and devoted loyalty, in past times, should be the best incentives to national pride and unreserved allegiance in future.” The “ History of Ireland," printed herewith, is the fourth historic work that the author has compiled and published within six years, a task which could not, of course, be accomplished in that interval, were it not facilitated by manuscript collections and indexes, hereinafter detailed, the result of upwards of thirty years' devoted application of study, time, and in
To gather in these from the various repositories, libraries, and public offices, has been a labour and expense continued and unceasing—the silent patriotism of his life. To facilitate the progress of such researches for others, to point out the respective sources whence information may be derived, the mass of material that has resulted in the present instance, and the order and classification into which they have been digested, will best effectuate the object of this little Essay.
“ The records and archives of Ireland have been fatally scattered; the consuming lapse of centuries has been the least effective of their destroyers. The Christian missionaries set the example of literary despoliation; they were indefatigable in suppressing the memorials of heathenism. The Danes were the bitter agents of retaliation, they flung the torch on every monastic receptacle of literature, and